Morning Coffee: Eyebrows raised at strange nude painting in senior banker's office. UBS banker discovers danger of public transport

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Morning Coffee: Eyebrows raised at strange nude painting in senior banker's office. UBS banker discovers danger of public transport

When is a nude not a nude? How about when it's of a human-bovine hybrid with the head of an animal and the (anatomically accurate) naked body of a man? One senior banker seems to have presumed that this disjunction would obfuscate questions about the advisability of having a large unclothed 'person' on his office wall. But now that he's gone, those questions are being asked.

The banker in question is Tim Throsby, the former head of Barclays' investment bank who was suddenly ousted last week. Throsby's taste in art doesn't appear to have been responsible for his disappearance, but it may be symptomatic of a certain insouciance. 

The painting in question was in Throsby's office, says the Financial Times. It depicted a life-size six foot minotaur with large muscles and what witnesses describe as “very lifelike genitalia." Throsby's visitors would sit beneath it, which appears to have been a memorable experience for some.

Throsby's minotaur might be dismissed as the average Wall Streeter's obsession with steroidal bull imagery as an expression of masculine potency, except - well - most men on Wall Street don't have large bulls with human genitalia on their walls. The FT suggests Throsby liked the unsettling effect of the picture, saying that he saw it as a conversation starter, which presumably it was - given that people may either have felt compelled to talk about the painting, or to change the subject and quickly talk about something else (eg. the fact that Throsby often wore cowboy boots to work). 

Curiously, however, Barclays didn't seem to mind the painting on Throsby's wall as long as he was in CEO Jes Staley's good books. Now that Throsby's gone and Staley is getting "back down in the trenches" and running the investment bank himself, the outed minotaur is presumably no more.

Throsby may not be feeling so bullish in his new job.  His next move remains unclear, but when he eventually lands another role,  he may well be accompanied by a different controversial artwork. Before Barclays, Throsby worked for JPMorgan; there, his office was reportedly decorated with "unforgettable" and "unmissable" topless miners. It's one way of livening up a cubicle.

Separately, people in the UK will likely be familiar with the Trigger Happy TV comedy sketches of a man bellowing into his mobile phone in public. Unfortunately, they seem to have passed by Lazard banker Vincent Le Stradic.

Ignorant of the irritation caused by loud telephone conversations in confined spaces, Le Stradic reportedly conducted a long conversation about a $15bn takeover bid by Iliad SA for T-Mobile US Inc during a two and a half hour Eurostar train journey in 2014. Unbeknown to Le Stradic, he was sitting next to Alexandre Zaluski, a banker from UBS. Zaluski promptly informed a colleague who pitched Iliad to help finance the deal. 

Le Stradic's oversight is now being contemplated by French financial regulators. He may wish he'd been texting instead. - Or that he'd been in some sort of private carriage under the channel. Working bankers and public transport don't really mix. 

Meanwhile:

After Throsby left, Barclays held a townhall meeting for its all-important Firmwide Resource Management group, or FiRM group, which allocates capital across the bank and is trying to drive returns higher. However, Art Mbanefo, FiRM's leader and Throsby's deputy was curiously absent. Mbanefo was supposedly on holiday. (Business Insider) 

Barclays alerted regulators over the structure of activist investor Edward Bramson’s stake in it. The stake allows him to invest in the company while being protected from losses if the shares fall below a certain level - thought to be £1.60. (The Times)

Barclays stands accused of providing more funding for fossil fuel projects than any other bank in Europe, lending $85bn to companies involved in fossil fuels between 2016 and 2018. (Guardian) 

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank both have issues with their merger. Deutsche Bank is concerned about the need to revalue Commerzbank’s credit portfolio. Commerzbank is assessing Deutsche Bank’s willingness to restructure its investment bank. (Bloomberg) 

Goldman Sachs hired JPMorgan's Oliver Wunde and Davide Trinello to its strategic equity division, and plans more hires to come. (Financial News) 

There are very few women in investment roles in hedge funds. - They're all working in hedge funds' compliance and legal teams instead. (Yahoo) 

UK M&A fell 68% year-on-year in the first quarter. German M&A fell 76%. (Reuters)  

A London banker was fired after CCTV revealed him taking a $6.55 bike part from a colleague's bike in a storage shed. He says that wasn't fair. (Bloomberg) 

Why Lloyd Blankfein loves Twitter: “It forces you to commit.” (Financial Times) 

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